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Leinster Blast Their Way Past Scarlets

Leinster Blast Their Way Past Scarlets

Leinster completed a winning weekend for the Irish provinces as a clinical first half display helped them carve out a bonus point 32-7 victory over the Scarlets in Llanelli on Saturday evening.

The Scarlets, who were top of the Pool 6 table before the start of round 3, were simply cut to shreds as defending champions Leinster signalled their intent for tries in the opening quarter.

Michael Cheika’s men were 22-0 up inside the first half hour as they outclassed the Welsh region, but it was not until late on in the second half that the visitors sealed the bonus point with man-of-the-match Sean O’Brien crashing over in the right corner.

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As well as O’Brien, Australian out-half Shaun Berne stood out with a first half try, a 12-point kicking haul and the initial break which led to Leinster’s fourth and final try.

It took just three minutes and 15 seconds for Leinster to cross for their opening try when winger Shane Horgan sped through a gap between Andy Fenby and Daniel Evans and rounded two more tacklers on a splendid 40-metre run to the line.

Berne converted and then added a penalty before Leinster scored two more tries in a devastating five-minute spell.

The lively Isa Nacewa was sent down the wing by Brian O’Driscoll, who put in some hard hits as Leinster got on top, and Nacewa passed back inside for the supporting Gordon D’Arcy to canter over in behind the posts.

Leinster moved further ahead after a quick lineout throw from the razor sharp Eoin Reddan was moved quickly across the pitch for Berne to nip over in the corner.

The Scarlets’ intent to get on the scoreboard was obvious after the interval and five minutes into the half, bustling centre Jon Davies forced his way over for a converted try.

That upped the tempo of the contest and more pressure from the Scarlets saw Leinster lock Nathan Hines sin-binned for a professional foul.

Although Leinster regrouped well, they missed a chance of a long range penalty goal when full-back Rob Kearney fired wide.

The atmosphere was stoked up even more when Sean Lamont was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle on Nacewa, which saw Berne kick Leinster into a 25-7 lead on 56 minutes.

As the match wore on Leinster must have started wondering where the fourth try was coming from, but it duly arrived on 72 minutes when Berne dummied and broke into space on the right, Jamie Heaslip was on hand to carry it on and he offloaded sweetly in the tackle for flanker O’Brien to gather and dive over for the key score.

Speaking afterwards, recent Ireland debutant O’Brien said: “We had opportunities in the first half and we let them slip and maybe our concentration wasn’t as good as it should have been.

“We had to work very hard for the fourth try and we’re happy with the performance in the first half, especially, but we needed to kick on and we didn’t do that.

“We’re looking forward to facing the Scarlets next week (back in Dublin). Nowadays you know you have to have your line speed right and that approach never changes from week to week.

“They ran hard at us, but we defended well for long periods of the game and came out on the right side thankfully.”